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Please Don't Help My Kids

I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am too lazy to get up and help them climb the ladder. I brought them here so they could learn to climb it themselves.

By Kate Bassford Baker

Dear Other Parents At The Park:

Please do not lift my daughters to the top of the ladder, especially after you've just heard me tell them I wasn't going to do it for them and encourage them to try it themselves.

I am not sitting here, 15 whole feet away from my kids, because I am too lazy to get up. I am sitting here because I didn't bring them to the park so they could learn how to manipulate others into doing the hard work for them. I brought them here so they could learn to do it themselves.

They're not here to be at the top of the ladder; they are here to learn to climb. If they can't do it on their own, they will survive the disappointment. What's more, they will have a goal and the incentive to work to achieve it.

In the meantime, they can use the stairs. I want them to tire of their own limitations and decide to push past them and put in the effort to make that happen without any help from me.

It is not my job — and it is certainly not yours — to prevent my children from feeling frustration, fear, or discomfort. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that those things are not the end of the world, and can be overcome or used to their advantage.

If they get stuck, it is not my job to save them immediately. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn to calm themselves, assess their situation, and try to problem solve their own way out of it.

It is not my job to keep them from falling. If I do, I have robbed them of the opportunity to learn that falling is possible but worth the risk, and that they can, in fact, get up again.

I don't want my daughters to learn that they can't overcome obstacles without help. I don't want them to learn that they can reach great heights without effort. I don't want them to learn that they are entitled to the reward without having to push through whatever it is that's holding them back and *earn* it.

Because — and this might come as a surprise to you — none of those things are true. And if I let them think for one moment that they are, I have failed them as a mother.

I want my girls to know the exhilaration of overcoming fear and doubt and achieving a hard-won success. 

I want them to believe in their own abilities and be confident and determined in their actions. 

I want them to accept their limitations until they can figure out a way past them on their own significant power.

I want them to feel capable of making their own decisions, developing their own skills, taking their own risks, and coping with their own feelings.

I want them to climb that ladder without any help, however well-intentioned, from you.

Because they can. I know it. And if I give them a little space, they will soon know it, too.

So I'll thank you to stand back and let me do my job, here, which consists mostly of resisting the very same impulses you are indulging, and biting my tongue when I want to yell, "BE CAREFUL," and choosing, deliberately, painfully, repeatedly, to stand back instead of rush forward.

Because, as they grow up, the ladders will only get taller, and scarier, and much more difficult to climb. And I don't know about you, but I'd rather help them learn the skills they'll need to navigate them now, while a misstep means a bumped head or scraped knee that can be healed with a kiss, while the most difficult of hills can be conquered by chanting, "I think I can, I think I can", and while those 15 whole feet between us still feels, to them, like I'm much too far away.


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Noreen Dalisera March 04, 2014 at 03:29 PM
If posts are going to continue regarding this article, please refrain from using offensive language. Curse words are never acceptable wording in these posts.
Carol Harrison March 04, 2014 at 03:48 PM
John, I only know this is still going on because I get email updates. So this had been quiet since the 14th when someone jumped on 6 days later to tell people to no have kids. Then 4 days after that you have to join in on kicking the dead dog. You seem determined to keep it alive.
Beege Marshall March 06, 2014 at 04:59 PM
John, you are the one arguing with people ..... ;o> I was making a good natured comment. It's YOUR interpretation of other people's tone. And no, my children are much older than the Internet, so I wasn't on it ignoring them as you imply. You sound like you feel your mother ignored you. In spite of your assumption, I did take mine to countless activities year round throughout their childhoods and adolescences to find out what they were good at and liked. They are so independent and competent from my allowing and encouraging them to learn as independently as appropriate, they became jet setters and globe trotters for years working all over the world literally before they finally settled down and started families. BTW, they both partially paid for their own college educations and graduate degrees. One received full scholarship with living expenses for two graduate degrees working as a TA. A parents PRIMARY responsibility is to teach their children to SURVIVE on their own just as in nature and the animal kingdom.
Cathi March 10, 2014 at 07:06 AM
How can I remove this thread? It's annoying and it's OLD.
Noreen Dalisera March 10, 2014 at 10:38 AM
Cathi and everyone else just as frustrated with the continued commenting - sign into your patch account, go to email settings and there is a section to opt out of receiving notifications when someone posts a comment on something you commented on.

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